Tuesday, 31 May 2011

From the Top Drawer XVI - Wooden Baby

'Wooden Baby evolved from a gothic /garage punk band I had called THE FUNERAL PARTY... Wooden Baby came about from wanting to explore the electronic side a bit more... plus I think the drug taking had a big influence!'

If you ever wondered what Merv was up to musically before he became the drummer for Ozric Tentacles and then main man for Eat Static, give this a listen. This tape dates from 1988 and is credited to Wooden Baby, which at the time consisted of Merv and friend Charlie. I'm not sure whether this is their first release as I have another tape called 'Forbidden Pastures' that may pre-date it.

Musically it bears little resemblance to the direction that Eat Static would follow a few years later other than the drum machine beats and some synth work, and this is definitely a product of the 1980s DIY pre-rave scene, being somewhat pedestrian in its approach like a lot of the music of the time, before it was re-energized by the dance music/free festival crossover.

Some old-school festival goers had a hard time adapting to the arrival of more electronic rhythms and the all night and day policy of the techno and house sound systems, and even as late as Castlemorton in May 1992 I remember there was still a fair amount of antagonism directed towards the increasing numbers of 'cheesy quavers' arriving on the festy scene (a lot of it directed at their ignorance of accepted festival toilet etiquette!). For myself I welcomed the changing times, as I thought that the scene needed fresh blood and enthusiasm after several years of festivals often being spoilt by the presence of more nihilistic elements like the infamous 'Brew Crew'.

I missed seeing Wooden Baby play under that name. By the time I encountered the live act Joie Hinton from the Ozrics, Ullulators & Oroonies (etc, etc - Joie was once presented with an award onstage before a 1991 Static performance by Michael and Bob Dog at Megadog in recognition for being in the most bands at the time) was on board, the name had changed to Eat Static and the rest is history...

Ripped as two side-long tracks @320kbps, get it HERE

Monday, 16 May 2011

From the Top Drawer XV - Ring

Not to be confused with the last uploaded band Ring Of Roses, Ring were a pretty different kettle of fish, as they say. This South London/Croydon based band even has its own Wikipedia page here, probably due to their connections to more well-known bands that ex-members migrated to, notably Cardiacs, Levitation and Dark Star (yeah, but why shouldn't they have their own page anyway?).

The music on this tape 'O De Dun Dun' (their second self-issued effort after 'Demo Tape No. 1 October 1984') bears little resemblance to the output of those other bands, and whilst I do like early Cardiacs music (and Ring's third tape 'Nervous Recreations' is patently/blatantly influenced by them), I have to say that I prefer the more original direction and style that the band followed here in 1986.
And it's the only tape of theirs that I have as an original cassette.

Sharp guitar playing, a tight rhythm section, colourful synths and punky vocals unite "blending all manner of riffs and noises" together in sometimes complex songs that sound much better than they should if this was recorded on a limited portastudio-level budget (??).

The live shows that I witnessed were pretty anarchic circus-type affairs and didn't always come together but the energy was there in buckets as was the sweat and effort they put into it.
Anyway, here's the tape cover where you can get the running order. Click on the scan to enlarge...

As usual the tape has been ripped as two side-long tracks @320kbps
Grab a download HERE

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

From the Top Drawer XIV - Ring Of Roses

This is one for those folks who used to go to Alice In Wonderland at Gossips in Dean Street, London and anybody who went on the Magical Mystery Trips that the club organised. Much has been written about the place, with it being the cocoon from which Doctor And The Medics emerged to have a number one hit with their cover of 'Spirit In The Sky' in 1986, although they had been around since 1981. A lot of talent passed through the club, but most individuals never enjoyed the publicity on the level that the good Doctor and his band received.

I'm not going to cover the club in detail (there's a good piece here), but I'll just say that wedged into the tiny corner of the basement in an area set aside for a stage (no raised platforms here) I witnessed quite a few acts, including the Medics, various Damned members, Inner City Unit (a lengthy set which took up most of the evening!), Webcore, and even The Cult just before they had their She Sells Sanctuary megahit. There was a band every week, some forgettable but most worth a look, if your eyes could see past the oilwheel lightshow that bounced off the strips of tissue paper that hung from the ceiling and served as decor. Many creative people passed through its doors during the few years the club was open, and punters could rub shoulders and have a chat with various movers 'n' groovers on the London scene at that time.

Ring Of Roses was another project that featured lead singer James Vane (see older post here) and one of the many bands featuring sax player Dan Carpenter. They pursued a different musical direction (more like the Psychedelic Furs at that time perhaps) with a cleaner, more commercial sound than before - less psychedelic and more straightforward than Vane the band. In fact legend has it that the band signed a lucrative six figure deal with RCA Records, yet never got round to releasing anything. I acquired a tape of their performance at the 6th July 1985 AIW Mystery Trip (at a former Butlins holiday camp in Clacton-On-Sea in Essex - more memories shared here) along with some demos and this is what you get here.

The package contains the live set (or as much as I have to share) which for some reason has a demo of 'Spiritual Sky' spliced into it - maybe the live version got minced? - and three demo songs including the studio 'No Soul Without Fire'. The live set starts off in a melodic structured style then gets looser and more trippy as it progresses to its close...a couple of the demos are in a more classic pop vein. The tape's a bit hissy but WTF, some good tunes here. Could have/should have been huge...

- Live at the Alice In Wonderland Mystery Trip, Clacton-On-Sea 6th July 1985 -
I Could Say / Flowers In The Morning / Simon And Cindy / Freaksong / Lorraine /
Dangerous Mission / Spiritual Sky (demo spliced into sequence) / No Soul Without Fire

and the demos
- According To The Weatherman
- No Soul Without Fire
- Silent Angel

Ripped @320kbps from an acquired tape. Get it HERE